Dating is hard. Whether you’re suffering sub-par social skills or just struggling to find someone who shares the same core values as yourself, it’s often a challenge to meet partners who reach every expectation and connect with you on a physical or sexual level.
Since the invention of the internet, folks have flocked to its digital landscape in search of the right people who ticks off these boxes, and the advent of apps made it even easier to constantly browse local singles nonstop at your fingertips. Some apps are prone to fleeting flings of passion that end after a night, while others invite you to get to know other members before you both dive into a relationship that could really blossom. They also get more specific after that and as you’ll see below, many take into account your, education level, non-hetero sexualities, and many other attributes that make you a dream lover for some and ultimate foe for others.
Read on to see eight of the best apps out there that will sort through the millions of singles in the world to help you find someone who ticks off all your boxes and looks cute to boot. Download a favorite or three for absolutely free, fill out a few quick profiles, and start scrolling to find true love–or at least a fun fling.
Remember while you're scrolling that first impressions are important, so make sure you're putting your best face forward in those profile pics with help from one of these great selfie lighting systems.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing, expert advice and our own research. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
This one touts itself as “the dating app designed to be deleted,” hinting of course that you’ll find your true love here and thus no longer need an app at all. Profile are encouraged to be detailed, listing everything from religion to lifestyle habits, and updated prompts mean you’re not recycling the same info over and over–Hinge is looking for fresh aspects of you that you may not even notice so they can match you up with the type of person who’ll complement that shining personality.
Another key aspect of Hinge is the limited like feature. You’ll only get 10 “likes” a day, so you have to put a little more care into who you’re choosing rather than scrolling endlessly and tossing out potential mates like last night’s leftovers. There’s nothing wrong with that if it’s what you want, of course, but there’s a better app for that and it’s called…
Everybody and their newly widowed grandma knows about Tinder, but it remains a popular way to anonymously scroll through would-be paramours any place, any time. The “doube opt-in” manner in which users must both like each other before being simultaneously alerted of the mutual attraction has been praised for taking the pressure of one or the other party for needing to make the first move, though you’ll still need to get up the confidence to message first if the party on the other end of the “liking” doesn’t strike first.
Tinder has become synonymous with hookup culture so while it’s fun, you’re less likely to make a serious connection. Profiles can be informationally sparse, and users tend to make snap judgements based on looks. Download Tinder if you’re looking for a little fun but consider looking elsewhere if you’re gunning for a spouse.
Bumble has grown into an all-around networking app, but its primary use for most is still as one for dating. It claims to “change the antiquated rules of dating,” and does so by requiring the woman to make contact first in heterosexual matches, thus breaking the standard gender rule of “the male is the aggressor” and theoretically equalizing the playing field from the jump. Through encouraging kindness and respect between users and being committed to banning anyone who goes against those values, Bumble is able to foster an environment of meaningful connection rather than quick hookups and casual flings.
eHarmony has been around since long before apps were even a thing, and the tried-and-true compatibility tests they utilize to pair prospective mates continues to make them one of the most trusted outlets in online dating. This app is for those looking for long-term love and thus focuses on who are you, what passions you have, compatible value systems, and making sure the people you find will align with these key traits. Premium services are available for an additional cost (as with most of these apps), but you can download this popular classic and start your search for free.
One selling point from Elite Singles is its rapidly growing membership with over 380,000 members joining each month as averaged by their tracking systems since 2018. Another is the quality checks ensuring “safe dating experiences with real people.” The real draw for Elite for some, though, is the above-average education needed to even be on the app. While you may (and probably shouldn’t) care how much college your sweetheart was able to complete, it could come in handy if you’re a work-focused person looking for someone in your field who will understand the unique and demanding schedule of someone who puts in long hours at a law firm or barely leaves the hospital to sleep. Workaholics and academics gather ‘round: Elite Singles is for you.
If you’re over 50 and looking to pair up with someone who shares your rich level of life experience, Our Time is custom-made for you. Singles here are all entering their more mature years, many divorced, with kids, coming to terms with lifelong suppressed sexuality issues, widowed, or holding any other complex and interesting form of “baggage” that younger folks just don’t understand. You meet others through telling these stories, connecting where your timelines intersect and building a relationship from there.
Match has been a reliable name in online dating since April 21, 1995, when a good portion of the people on it these days probably weren’t even born! The 25 years since has seen the Match system evolve to meet the ever-growing needs of a user base that grows by 25,000 members a day. Match also encourages LGBTQ+ folks to join, something other sites don’t necessarily prohibit but might be vague about, so gay, straight, bi, pan, and any others who fall somewhere under the rainbow are welcomed with open arms on this app. Live video chat is also an option, so you can digitally meet your dates before the real thing and avoid getting ready for a full night out just to discover they’re a dud.
Think of Zoosk as the post-Tinder pit stop you make on your way to real connection. They make a big show of talking up “real connection” and “discovering quality people” in their sales pitch, and a reported 40 million users seem to agree it’s a good place to do just that. Standard filters that apply to gender, sexual preference, age, and location are standard, but advanced filters like “relationship history, children, ethnicity, religion, education and body type” narrow the search even further to help you find exactly the match you’ve been seeking. “Say goodbye to wasting time on dates only to learn the other person doesn’t share the same values as you do,” they claim, so check this one out if you hold values over intense heat or sexual connection and find your way to a lasting partnership.